BrightStar completes five-year commitment
BrightStar Wisconsin Foundation’s “Hatch” program was originally created to be a one-year event to reward some of its central Wisconsin donors by helping them to increase entrepreneurism and deal flow in their locales. Though outside of its core mission to fund early-stage companies, the program was designed to give entrepreneurs outside of Wisconsin’s two major metro areas a platform to present business ideas to their community, business leaders, industry experts, banks, law firms, potential investors, and other organizations that support startup and early-stage companies. The entrepreneurs also compete for prize money to help start or expand their business.
Launched in 2017 with the cooperation of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and their Entrepreneurial Support matching grant program, the inaugural Hatch participation exceeded expectations. Therefore, BrightStar decided to extend the event for an additional four years to reach remaining outlying metro areas such as Wausau, Wisconsin Rapids, Marshfield, Stevens Point, Menomonie, Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls, Sheboygan, Appleton, Green Bay, Marionette and Racine/Kenosha. This year the two regions (The New North and Chippewa Valley) will hold a total of seven events which include their individual regional finales, and in the 2019 year alone, BrightStar’s support awarded a record total of more $33,000 in Hatch prize money. This will be the last year Brightstar will be an active player in this event, but will still externally consider the ventures involved in the various pitch events for our future portfolio investments.
In 2019, the Central Wisconsin regional Hatch Finale winner Michelle Goetsch from Kronenwetter took first place and won $5,000 with her idea ERbin, a software app that works to educate people on a city-by-city how recycle follow the local guidelines that community sets. At the 2019 Chippewa Valley Hatch Finale in Altoona Jim McDougall’s from Eau Claire took first place and won $5,000. His business, UpStream, provides 100% wireless audiovisual solutions using proprietary software and hardware for businesses and homes.
Due to the implications of COVID-19 and being unable to hold large social gatherings, three virtual HATCH events and a regional finale were able to be held during the 2020 year. We are expecting a large turnout this year at both regional finales. For reference, The New North Hatch Regional Finale held December 3, 2019, in Green Bay closed out the Hatch program with 400 people in attendance…a record crowd for a Hatch event.
Over the last four years BrightStar has discovered numerous solid ideas at the Hatch events and has invested $350,000 into three of these companies that have participated in the program. Companies including Agricycle Global, Arbré Technologies, and FreshEx (now SoFresh) were Hatch program competitors that Brightstar has continued to support in our investment portfolio. “There was a real need to stimulate the entrepreneur eco-system in most parts of the state, and the Hatch program has proven to be a successful platform for doing just that,” said Fred Raasch, BrightStar’s Vice President and Hatch program director. “With the many dozens of civic leaders and support organization that have now participated in Hatch, I feel confident they will easily be able to continue and improve their own local programs using our template as a basis.”
With startup week being November 14-20th 2021, “New North is proud to be working with local partners again this year to provide an opportunity for creative business ideas to be shared through these pitch competitions,” mentions Barb LaMue, president and CEO of New North, Inc. “We thank the Greater Green Bay Chamber for hosting the application website.” This event hopes to offer company owners an outlet into connecting like-minded individuals and a viable solution to potentially raise much needed capital for their specified startup costs. Below are the events and contact information for this year’s 2021 Hatch Event:
Date: Nov. 17, 2021
Time: 5 p.m.
Location: Wisconsin Timber Rattlers-Fox Den, 2400 N. Casaloma Dr., Appleton, WI 54913
Contacts: Amy Pietsch, ; Rob Kleman, ; Raina Jeffery,
(Workshop – November 3 at the Venture Project, 210 N. Main Street, Oshkosh)
Date: Nov. 15, 2021
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Farm Wisconsin Discovery Center, 7001 Gass Lake Road, Manitowoc, WI 54220
Contact: Ann Flad-Jesion,
(Virtual Pitch Workshops – October 4, 11, 18, 25; November 2)
Contact: Ray York,
The top two winners from each of these local contests will receive prize money - $1000 cash for first place, $500 for second place – with the top winners advancing to the NEW Launch Alliance Hatch Event on December 2, where they will compete for additional funding for their business ideas and broad investor attention. Prize money at the regional event is $3,000 for first place and $2,000 for second place.